Under the Tuscan sun

Film released by Touchstone Pictures
Score soundtrack released by Hollywood Records, 2061-62407-2
Given US theatrical release, currently distributing globally

Film not yet viewed by Bluntinstrument, so comment cannot be made on the effectiveness of the score in its home medium; equally, a consistently thematic score such as this is open to more indepth musical discussion in future


It would be unfair to shout "Thomas Newman!" during the opening bars of Christophe Beck's score to Under the Tuscan sun, because although there is more than a hint of Newman's oft-used repeated rhythms (a child of Reichian minimalism) and strummed-and-plucked instruments, Beck's score has a great deal more to offer, with a pleasant maturity of phrase, beauty of orchestration and overall sunny flavour. Sometimes gently humourous (eg. the Italian flavoured track 14 with its accordion, violin and piano leads), sometimes more thoughtful (eg. track 23), sometimes breathing snatches of local colour (castonettes in track 7, for example), and sometimes using very understated electronics (samples, most likely, harking back to 'Guinevere'), there is plenty of variety to be had to accompany a film whose subject on first inspection might have been dangerously bland in adaptation. Beck's trademark light piano, as seemingly associative with him as the wordless chorus is to Danny Elfman, is occasionally brushed to the forefront (tracks 9 and 14 are to be noted for a honky-tonk sounding alternative to the straight sound normally employed), but Beck is for the most part quite democratic in his allocations, allowing guitar, clarinet (eg. early in track 25, also with solo violin), oboe (see the tender opening of track 6), strings (especially track 20) et al their place in the sun. Very obviously revelling in the orchestral forces so often denied him until recently (his use of voices in track 28 is quite fantastic), Beck revels in his freedom, but is never uncontrolled, and always tuneful. If a criticism were to be levelled at this score it would be the number of tracks, 30, not allowing a sustained enough experience, but this is rarely the composer's fault, and to his credit, Beck's overall sound often reduces cue change to a mere resting place.


Director's comment (from liner notes)

Under the Tuscan sun is the second film I've made with Chris Beck, and for the second time, I am awestruck by his formidable talent. For this film, I asked Chris to compose a score using three voices, which we could then braid together. One voice, a clean and modern one, would belong to Diane's character, Frances; another would pay homage to Fellini's composer, Nino Rota; and the last would be a comic / romantic expression of Italian life. What Chris delivered infused the film with yearning, humor, pathos and beauty. With hi brilliant, instinctive feel for character, his subtle restraint and his expansive musical heart, he uplifts and defines every scene he scores. I am thrilled to have had him as my collaborator and filmmaking partner. [Audrey Wells]

Track listing

01. Follow the flower [clip: 0-1'08]
02. I broke my heart in San Francisco
03. Wish you were here
04. Bramasole
05. Un segno di dio
06. Buyer's remorse [clip: 0-0'56]
07. Three stooges
08. A team of experts
09. Ice cream
10. Believers
11. Kurwa Mac
12. The old man with the flowers
13. Olive harvest
14. Ode to San Lorenzo [clip: 0-0'39]
15. Roma
16. Marcello, of course [clip: 0'20-52]
17. Blue umbrellas
18. What American women say
19. Patti arrives
20. Mud slide
21. Springtime
22. Baby Allessandra
23. White dress
24. Katherine's fountain
26. The most important thing
27. Gaudeamus
28. My wish
29. The spigot
30. End titles

Total timing: 48'27"

Soundtrack credits

Composed and produced by Christophe Beck
Recorded and mixed by Casey Stone
Conducted by Mike Nowak
Orchestrations by Kevin Kleisch, Bill Boston, andrew Kaiser
Guitar and piano loops by Andy Medford
Featured musicians:
Guitar - George Doering
Piano - Mike (Michael) Lang
Violin - Endre Granai
Accordion - Frank Marocco
Clarinet - Dan Higgins
Oboe - Phil Ayling
Boy soprano - Chris Ibenhard
Orchestra musicians named:
violins (28), violas (12), cellos (12), double basses (8)
flutes (2), ooes (2), clarinets (2), bassoons (2)
horns (4), percussion (5), harp